FHS student receives diploma posthumously


Everybody looks forward to that day when they get to walk across a stage and receive their high school diploma, which serves as a certificate stating that the student has finally completed their four years of high school. For Robert Lawson, this dream quickly turned unachievable when he was told he would not be graduating with the rest of his 1968 class at Fairfield High School as he was half an English credit short.

Defeated, Lawson looked forward to attending summer courses in order to obtain his diploma, but due to his father having a heart attack near graduation, which caused him to experience complications, Lawson was unable to.

Lawson was then drafted into the military where he served in the Vietnam War from the years of 1969-71. After his return home, he was still dedicated to earning that high school diploma which he so desired. His wife, Barbara, had suggested that Robert possibly seek a GED, but Lawson was not a quitter and was going to finish his high school education if his life depended on it.

Lawson took summer classes where he was finally able to earn his missing credit, but something was missing. He was still not awarded his diploma due to unknown reasons.

Although upset, Lawson did not let this stop him and he took up mechanics as a career to help earn money as he did not want to be a factory worker and the occupation options were limited without a high school education. He was also heavily involved with his community, being an active member of the 4-H program. After a quiet period, tragedy struck and Lawson suffered from a stroke at only 40 years old. This, along with the complications he experienced from Agent Orange in Vietnam, left him disabled.

Barbara claims that if Lawson were able to, he would have gone back and got his diploma from the school, but this disability essentially ruined that for him. After many years of frequent hospital visits and complications, he tragically passed due to a cyst on his brain.

Before Lawson’s passing, Barbara had read an article about how the VA helped a veteran receive his high school diploma, and she hoped to encourage Lawson to take the same path. But to him, the diploma was just a useless piece of paper that served him no purpose after his stroke. To his family and friends the diploma recognizes his achievements and dedication and they hope that his story helps encourage others.

In school, Lawson might have been defined as somewhat mischievous or a prankster, but to his family he was determined, and through this determination, his family wants his legacy to live on despite him no longer being alive. For that reason, Barbara and her family gathered recently at Fairfield High School to receive Lawson’s high school diploma. Barbara hopes that her late husband’s story will help her grandkids and future generations value education. She also hopes that his story could possibly encourage someone in the same shoes to go back and receive recognition for their education.

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